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Posts from the ‘Office of the Children’s Lawyer’ Category

Are communications between the Children’s Lawyer and a child confidential?

In general, all lawyers owe a duty of confidentiality to their client. The fact that the Children’s Lawyer represents a child makes no difference—the same level of confidentiality is required, subject to exception. Where the Children’s Lawyer suspects the child suffers abuse or neglect while in the course of their legal duties, the Children’s Lawyer has a decision to make. The lawyer can breach confidentiality and alert the Children’s Aid Society, or not. The determining factor is whether the Children’s Lawyer has reasonable grounds to believe there is imminent risk... MORE »

What happens in cases of domestic violence?

Where the Children’s Lawyer is brought into a case involving domestic violence between the parents, the top priority is to ensure the child’s safety. The Children’s Lawyer undertakes to build rapport and trust with the child in order to ascertain the child’s feelings and preferences in the context of parental violence. This is generally done through interviewing the child, the child’s parents and authority figures—police, doctors, school or day-care staff, shelter workers, etc. Once adequate information is obtained, the Children’s Lawyer reports on whether current custody and access arrangements create... MORE »

Is a Court bound by recommendations made by the Office of the Children’s Lawyer?

Once the Office of the Children’s Lawyer (OCL) gets involved in a case, clinical investigators prepare a written report, which is presented by the Children’s Lawyer for the Court’s benefit. The question then becomes, how much weight does a Court put on such reports? Courts generally put significant weight on them as they are independent third-party accounts of the child’s best interest. However, a Court is not legally bound to follow recommendations in the report, particularly where the Court finds the OCL’s recommendations are not supported by the evidence at... MORE »

How does a Children’s Lawyer get involved?

A Children’s Lawyer becomes involved in a case by Court Order. The circumstances depend on whether the case concerns custody and access or child protection. Where custody and access are at issue, the Court can request the Children’s Lawyer get involved or by either parent, or lawyers for either parent, may bring a motion asking the Judge to get the Children’s Lawyer involved. When requested by a parent, the Children’s Lawyer has the latitude to decide whether to get involved—priority is given to high conflict cases. Where child protection is... MORE »

What does the Children’s Lawyer do?

The Children’s Lawyer acts as legal representative for the child where custody and access or child protection is at issue. In general, the Office of the Children’s Lawyer (OCL) serves as a third-party investigator to provide the Court with unbiased recommendations with respect to requirements for proper child care, custody, and well-being. An assessment can be ordered by the Court at any stage of the proceedings in furtherance of this objective. When engaged, the Children’s Lawyer will build trust with the child by meeting as often as necessary to determine... MORE »